July 1, 2013
This is the latest installment of our monthly feature called, "Ask the AD." If you have questions for Saluki Director of Athletics Mario Moccia, feel free to submit them by e-mail.
Congratulations on the strong APR report in football and basketball. How were you able to turn things around so dramatically and are you confident it can be maintained?
Thanks for the recognition of the hard work of so many, specifically our men's basketball head coach Barry Hinson and his staff, and Associate AD for Academics Kristina Stepps! After Coach Hinson's arrival, we posted a perfect score of 24/24 in the spring of 2012 and increased the team's single-year APR rate to a 962 for 2011-2012, which is nothing short of amazing. We are still digging out of a hole from our 2010-11 one-year score of 816, which was one of the five worst scores in the nation out of 347 schools. During the past year, academics weighed on every decision from team travel, to practice schedules, to team meetings. Coach Hinson instituted corrective measures for missed classes and closely monitored academic progress.
On a smaller note, but nevertheless pretty impressive, our football team received an award for the biggest improvement in APR score within the MVFC. Dale Lennon, his coaching staff and Kristina should be commended for this recognition.
Generally speaking, its seems SIU's sports teams are underperforming. Do you have a plan in place to improve them?
When both of your basketball teams finish in last place, I think that overshadows many of the successes we had throughout the 2012-13 school year. We did finish third out of 10 schools in the MVC All-Sports trophy standings, and I believe that is an excellent gauge of our overall success as a department. In fact, this year marked the fifth time in the last seven years we have finished in the top three.
Recapping our achievements of the past year, our men's cross country team won the MVC, our women's volleyball team won 21 games -- one of the highest win totals in school history, and our women's tennis team won a school-record 19 matches. The football team finished third in the MVFC, which is the toughest league in the country, and while a 6-5 record was disappointing, we seem to be on the cusp of qualifying for the playoffs. Even the men's basketball team won six more games than the previous year's squad, beat a Final Four team, and won five of its last seven regular-season games, reigniting the program.
We feel we have the facilities in place and the right coaches at the helm, and we are looking forward to winning more championships in the coming seasons.
Are you concerned about the lack of height on the basketball team once again this year?
In talking to some staff members about this subject, they reminded me that during our two recent Sweet 16 runs, we had a 6-foot-6 center (Rolan Roberts) and a 6-foot-7 center (Randal Falker), so it doesn't seem like a lack of height is necessarily an impediment to success. Those teams had terrific guard play, and that is what we need to get back to our winning ways. I am sure Coach Hinson will be recruiting as many quality big men as he and the staff can when they hit the road this July.